Set clear exercise goals, and start with a few basic exercises. It is recommended to start with a full body strength training program, performed 2 or 3 days times per week, or a basic training split (such as upper/lower). Goals should be specific and measurable. Write some long term goals down and develop short term goals that will help you meet them. Day by day, week by week, you can meet these goals. The progress will get addictive! It will help to make notes of how your exercise and nutrition go each day or each week. This can help you chart your progress and easily measure it.
Getting proper nutrition and rest are the other main components of any successful fitness program.
It is possible to prepare healthy meals very cheaply, using staple foods such as beans and rice. There are plenty of “budget recipes” online that are simple to prepare, such as salads, bowls, and quick healthy snacks. Check the price per ounce for each ingredient if possible and figure out what is in your budget. Of course, feel free to modify recipes based on personal taste and/or any food allergies you may have. Gradually replace processed foods with a variety of affordable whole foods.
It is important to take at least one day off from training each week. A physical activity that is not too taxing, such as walking or stretching, is still fine on days off. Schedule a deload week after every 4-6 weeks, or more frequently if needed, to recover and rebuild. You can use one or more deload protocols or just take an “active rest” week. In either case, focus on mobility work and therapeutic modalities.
Deload protocols include but are not necessarily limited to: less volume (sets / reps), less frequency (training days per week), less intensity (regressions of any kind), less variety (less exercises)
Active rest: ideas include but are not limited to pickup games of your favorite athletic sport, taking a Yoga class, getting in some light walking, and yard work or household chores. If you’re in good physical condition and accustomed to a high workload, you can build up to training 6 days per week while still engaging in an athletic sport. Of course, in this case, it is even more important to pay attention to your body. Get plenty of sleep and quality nutrition.
General Workout Tips
Always make sure to warm up properly.
Wear sneakers and comfortable clothing. Some forms of exercise will require certain apparel. Bring a workout towel with you if needed, and stay hydrated, especially when exercising outside in hot weather.
Safety precautions – these include, but are not limited to, sunscreen or insect repellent spray, having emergency contact info with you at all times, checking safety of training area, practicing situational awareness, adapt training habits and adapting your workout to the weather.
During workouts – 1) Active rest between sets and between exercises. Walk around your training area and/or perform light stretching, to keep your circulation up and your muscles loose. 2) Breathe deeply during exercise and take stretch breaks when needed. 3) Don’t push through pain or signs of overtraining.
Designate an area in your home for exercise. It can be as simple as floor space! Also check for local parks and recreation departments, if you want to train outside. Search online for local fitness groups or classes. Also, rec departments often have a variety of activities to choose from. Some churches offer free exercises classes.
Options for finding cheap or free exercise equipment include: browse Craigslist, check free stuff groups on Facebook, or sign up at Freecycle and ask around.
A few ideas for when you hit a plateau: lighten the intensity and focus on form, perform plateau busting workouts, change exercises or other variables in a workout
Warming up properly prevents injury, energizes you for the workout, and improves the elasticity of the muscles. Start with an exercise that will get your heart rate up and get the blood flowing, to warm up for stretching and training. Ideas include brisk walking, cardio, skipping rope, small space exercises, and light calisthenics. Next, perform joint rotations, such as shoulder circling. This helps lubricate your joints with synovial fluid and increase blood flow to the muscles.
Begin stretching after joint rotations. Only stretch to the mild to moderate discomfort. Pain is a sign that something is wrong or that you are over stretching. Gradually increase your range of motion and balance. Try to stretch as many muscles and joints as you can before a workout, or whenever it feels good. However, if time is short, at least stretch the parts of the body you will be working. After stretching, perform warmup sets, then your work sets. Also, stretch lightly after each workout.
It is recommended to use cushions for comfort and to ease into certain stretches. Folded up towels and pillows work very well. You could also use yoga straps, blocks, and/or bolsters if you have any already, but these are not strictly necessary.
Ideas for cardio include brisk walking, jogging, high intensity interval training, and small space exercises performed at a fast pace. A few ideas for small space exercises: animal moves (such as bear crawls and bunny hops), “mountain climbers”, skipping rope, running in place, jumping jacks, burpees, and agility drills that can be performed in a small space. You can use small space exercises to focus more on agility, mobility, cardio, or a combination.
Eat a variety of whole foods
Avoid empty calories
Take time to read the labels on products
Take a B12 or Super B-Complex supplement daily
Try to walk and/or stretch every day
Big changes don’t have to be made all at once; small changes day by day add up Shake things up now and then to boost motivation
Keep long term goals in mind – consistency is key
Allow time each week to relax and be mindful
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